"50 Years of Leadership"
MCPON rank turns 50
Fifty years ago, "All Hands" magazine highlighted 11 men as the "cream of the crop," calling them the top enlisted men of the Navy.
The new senior enlisted advisor would advise the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on the interests of the enlisted force, providing a constant stream of communication between the Sailors in the fleet and top Navy leadership.
Master Chief Gunner's Mate Delbert D. Black would ultimately be selected for the new role. Like all of the candidates, he was a veteran of World War II. In fact, together the 11 men had served a total of 288 years of service by 1967.
Most of their careers began before the outbreak of World War II, all by the summer of 1943. Although none of them served together, their paths are undeniably linked. They even fought in many of the same battles.
Black himself enlisted in March 1941 at the age of 17. He saw the start of the war firsthand as a young seaman aboard USS Maryland (BB 46), which was moored along battleship row in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
Black served out the entire war aboard the Maryland, which earned seven battle stars, fighting at Midway, Tarawa, Kwajalein Atoll, Saipan, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.
During another well-known battle of the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Guadalcanal, which lasted from August 1942 to February 1943. Sailors and Marines alike pushed back against the rising sun of the Empire of Japan, and Boatswain's Mate Calvin Baker helped take and defend the island. He was also part of the initial landing party at Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in 1943 when U.S. and Allied forces ousted Japanese troops. Baker's valor in the Pacific island campaigns earned him three Presidential Unit Citations.